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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2545

Thomas Wentworth Higginson additional scrapbooks and other papers

Scrapbooks, commonplace books, and other papers of author, abolitionist, and Civil War soldier, Thomas Wentworth Higginson.


  • 1838-1923

Language of Materials

Collection materials are primarily in English but include some items in French,German, and Latin.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


10 linear feet (28 volumes, 3 boxes, and 1 portfolio box)

Scrapbooks assembled by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (TWH) or his second wife, Mary Potter Thacher Higginson (MPTH). Scrapbooks include pasted-in materials about Higginson's writings, lectures, speeches, participation as a soldier in the American Civil War, involvement in Massachusetts elections and politics, abolitionist and ministerial activities, women's rights issues, birthday celebrations, John Brown, Harvard College involvement, and many other topics. One scrapbook volume is devoted completely to his friend and colleague, Helen Hunt Jackson. Some volumes document multiple titles, but others are devoted to a single work such as The afternoon landscape, articles written for the Boston daily advertiser, Larger history of the United States, Monarch of dreams, A ride through Kanzas, Such as they are, and article series Women and men published in Harper's Bazar.

Types of materials included within the scrapbook series are: correspondence, clippings, reviews, invitations, menus, galley proofs, fliers, telegrams, playbills, photomechanical portrait images of TWH, visiting cards, advertisements (especially broadsides) for TWH's books and lectures, extensive biographical articles, printed copies of his newspaper and journal articles, autograph manuscripts of some writings, extensive autograph notes, obituaries on TWH, and letters of condolence. Many of the scrapbook volumes include an incomplete autograph manuscript index inside the front or back cover.

The "Other papers series" includes: printed version of William Warland Clapp's Joseph Dennie; TWH diplomas, certificates, and military commissions; TWH commonplace books from 1838-1856, and other items.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911) was a minister, author, reformer, historian, abolitionist, soldier, advocate for women's rights and a colonel of the first regiment of African Americans in the Civil War (1862-1864).

Higginson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, son of Stephen Higginson, Jr., a Boston merchant, and Louisa Storrow Higginson. He received his AB degree from Harvard in 1841 and graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1847. He became pastor of the First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts, where his progressive views on temperance, women's rights, labor, and slavery caused him to lose his congregation two years later.

In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Act was passed and Higginson joined the Boston Vigilance Committee to aid escaping slaves. From 1852-1861 he was a pastor of a "Free Church" in Worcester, Massachusetts and he took a leading part in liberating the fugitive Anthony Burns (1854), and he supported John Brown both in Kansas (1856) and in his raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (1859). During the Civil War Higginson accepted command of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, later the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops, the first black regiment in the U.S. armed forces. After 1864 he wrote a series of popular biographies and histories and a novel. Higginson is also credited with having discovered and encouraged the poet Emily Dickinson.

Higginson was married in 1847 to his second cousin, Mary Elizabeth Channing, the daughter of the dean of the Harvard Medical School. Mary died in 1877 and Higginson moved to Cambridge and in 1879 married 33 year old Mary Potter Thacher, the daughter of Cambridge lawyer Peter Thacher. He had two daughters with his second wife, only one surviving into adulthood. Higginson died in Cambridge in 1911.

  1. "Higginson, Thomas Wentworth ." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 July 2007.
  2. Edelstein, Tilden G. "Higginson, Thomas Wentworth." American National Biography Online. Feb. 2000.


Arranged into the following two series:
  1. I. Scrapbooks
  2. ___A. TWH personal scrapbooks
  3. ___B. TWH writings scrapbooks
  4. ___C. TWH topical scrapbooks
  5. ___D. MPTH scrapbooks on TWH
  6. II. Other papers

Physical Location

f, b, MS, pf

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. From the estate of Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Gift of Mrs. Mary Potter Thacher Higginson and Mrs. Margaret Higginson Barney; received: 1930 July 18.

Related Materials

See also:
  1. T.W. Higginson Scrapbooks (MS Am 1256-1256.4).
  2. Related material on TWH, including scrapbooks, is held by the Harvard University Archives.

Separated Materials

Transferred to Rare Books: Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Young folks' history of the United States. Boston: Howe Memorial Press, 1905.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Link to catalog
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911. Thomas Wentworth Higginson additional scrapbooks and other papers, 1838-1923: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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